BACOLOD CITY – Environmentalists and various sectors recently staged a silent protest to denounce the cutting of 26 fully-grown trees to give way to a P32-million road project.
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Bacolod head District Engineer Jaime Javellana said they were able to get an authorization from the Department of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR) to cut 35 trees to give way for ongoing projects which included the improvement of sidewalk and installation of streetlights from the Bacolod public plaza to the Old Bacolod airport.
Twenty six of the 35 trees were already cut by the DPWH which led to the disappointment of residents and environmentalists as well as local government officials.
“I was told people are shocked that these Bacolod treasures had been ravaged. We’ve lived with these trees for decades now,” said Mayor Evelio Leonardia in a statement.
Leonardia instructed Police Col. Manuel Placido, city police director, to stop the cutting of trees instantly, and issued an executive order creating a joint committee to investigate the incident.
“The trees were some of the treasures of Bacolod that people marveled at, and we considered those trees as part and parcel of the city,” Leonardia said.
The 35 trees set to be destroyed are 15 molave, 12 narra, seven mahogany and one eucalyptus.
After some Bacolodnons aired their sentiments, the DPWH stopped the cutting of trees, leaving only nine trees uncut.
“Thanks but no thanks. For the nine remaining trees, thanks for they have been saved. But, have we not learned our lessons,” said educator Rhoderick Samonte.
Javellana, in media interviews, said the cutting of trees was for the safety of pedestrians, commuters, and motorists, considering that the roots have already damaged the sidewalk and posed danger to the public.
Fr. Chris Gonzales, director of the Social Action Center (SAC) of the Diocese of Bacolod, who also joined the protest, considered it as a sad event that had awaken not only the residents, but also government leaders.
“I hope this won’t happen again, I hope they will reconsider their plans,” the priest added.